Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai Duty Free, during an interview at the Dubai Tennis Open on 26th February, 2018. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Archive

Dubai The Chief Operation Officer (COO) Dubai Duty Free, the owners and organisers of the Dubai Tennis Championships, is mulling plans to make the annual two-week tournament one of the build-up events for the 2020 Dubai Expo.

Centred around the motto ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, the World Expo is scheduled to be opened on October 20, 2020. Since winning the bid in 2013, more than 190 countries have confirmed their participation for this event that is held once every five years at various destinations around the globe. Milan hosted the previous event in 2015, while Osaka in Japan will play host to the next expo in 2025.

“For next year all of the events on the calendar will be part of the build-up. We have started informal conversations with different people involved, and the events that immediately come to mind are the Omega Dubai Desert Classic (end of January), followed by the two weeks of tennis in February and then the Dubai World Cup at the end of March. All these are definitely part of the build-up,” Ramesh Cidambi, Coo, Dubai Duty Free, told Gulf News.

“Everyone in the country is aware and of the task at hand, and everybody realises that we will all be making an extra effort next year to keep the excitement going until the opening of the 2020 Expo on October 20.”

While there will be an enhanced engagement from the local sporting community, the organisers are also in the process of laying out tailor-made hospitality packages for international visitors. “We realise we need to do something special for 2020. Our tournament will be special no doubt,” Cidambi said.

“As soon as this tournament is over on March 2, we will start reviewing everything about this tournament, like the infrastructure, the ticketing, the hospitality. The sole idea is try to make the venue and tournament more attractive, both for the regular tennis fans and for the occasional visitors as well. We want to attract everyone.”

For a long time, organisers have struggled to fill up seating especially in the first week of the championships. Recognising this need they started working on an outreach programme that saw the involvement of tennis academies housed in the UAE along with pricing of tickets.

“The thinking always is to ensure a better all-round experience, both for the fans and the players. This year, one of the things we did early was having even more activities so that we could get families involved. We’ve made the ticket pricing more attractive. On the first three days, a Grand Stand ticket has been priced at only Dh55. That’s like going for a movie,” Cidambi said.

“And the quality of tennis and the number of matches that you get to see in the beginning of a tournament is amazing. And then we had this partnership with Careem to avoid transportation issues, if any. Next year, all these aspects will be even better for a more enjoyable experience for all.”